Spring 2021 Ready to Wear

Pictures by Givenchy


Matthew Williams Brings Elevated Street Style to Givenchy 

Matthew Williams created quite a buzz back in June when he was announced as the successor to Clare Wright Keller’s age of elegance at Givenchy. Was it the shirtless black and white images splashed across Instagram, endorsed by the French luxury house? Was it a wariness of his age (34)? His nationality (American)? His penchant for bondage influences in his streetwear brand 1017 ALYX 9SM (recently seen as part of Moncler’s Genius Initiative) Or was it his pedigree as part of the Kanye/Abloh school of fashion, another street style designer corrupting the heritage of a prestigious French fashion house? Needless to say, there was backlash and hesitation, all of which fell on the deaf ears of Givenchy, who once took a chance on the young, experimental Alexander McQueen, and rebranded with the punk-rock aesthetic of Riccardo Tisci. The appointment of Williams fits naturally into the lineage of Givenchy’s narrative.

Williams debuted his highly anticipated first collection for the label during Paris Fashion Week. There was no splashy runway, no front row of influencers or celebrities, instead, he released a modest look book of digital images for public consumption. The collection began with a series of sharply tailored looks for men and women; clean lines, pressed fabrics in solid black and white, each look accompanied with a bag in various leathers with silver metal handles and chains. Nine tailored looks in, and the club kid elements began to appear with halter tops, sheer tanks reminiscent of ’90s waif culture, ribboned mini dresses and metallic lamè pants for men worn sans shirt, with heavy metal chain belts and devil horned black baseball hats. Pants and dresses were given a slashing treatment, including one stunning nude leather, floor-length dress that peeked open like blinds in your bedroom, accessorized with a white “hardware” belt adorned with dangling locks inspired by the love locks fashioned on the bridges of Paris. 

Williams smartly referenced two predecessors, Hubert de Givenchy himself with the precise tailoring and two gorgeous open-backed dresses, both with long sleeves and elbow cut-outs, one with a cheeky (pun intended) red thong peeking out, the other yellow, with sparkling jewels lining the cut outs, paired with sneaker slides. McQueen references came in the form of horned claw heels, which caused quite a stir online, alongside another shoe offering that strapped toes into three sections, which quickly caught the eye of fashion watchdog Diet Prada, who compared the look to the foot of a muppet. Yikes. 

The collection concluded with a series of sheer dresses, dressed down with a black hooded sweatshirt, and dressed up with spiked Mary Jane heels and a white, pointed shoulder cropped cape. Dangling silver appendages adorned each piece, hitting home the heavy use of hardware that Williams considers his label branding. There were no splashy displays of logos or lettering so oft used these days with luxury brands trying to reach label hungry crowds or make a quick commercial success. Williams is taking a more intellectual and subtle (as subtle as metal hardware can be) approach to branding, banking on the fact that people will come to recognize the new Givenchy based on style, not name. It is a daring concept paired with an equally daring first collection. The elevation from eponymous street style brand to storied French luxury label is a leap, and Williams seems poised and ready to bring a fresh, new era to Givenchy. 

Written by Elizabeth Kramsky


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